The BoSox Injection staff’s preview of the Boston Red Sox 25-man roster continues with a look at Rusney Castillo.
Just what impact did what was perceived to be a minor April injury have on Castillo in 2015? The injury was the result of trying to capture a sinking line drive at Pawtucket and lingered on far longer than expected. Still the stat line with Pawtucket was encouraging with a slash of .282/.337/.385 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 40 games. Castillo also showed his speed with 10 steals in 12 attempts. The fielding was more than adequate. The long jam in the outfield had been eradicated and Castillo moved on to Boston.
The initial promise that was displayed at the end of 2014 season with a .333 average and .405 in the Puerto Rico Winter League – both were ten games – did not materialize. The Boston slash finished at .253/.288/.359, which is not devastating until you see the lack of power. The muscular 28-year-old manufactures some prodigious home runs, but, unfortunately, they were few and far between in 2015 with a mere five in 289 plate appearances. Castillo, however, did master the ability hit ground balls with a GB% of 63.5.
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The speed at Pawtucket was certainly gone when major league catching arms and more crafty pitchers were in play as Castillo nabbed four bases in nine attempts. And when your BB% is 4.5 that certainly limits opportunity. When you examine Castillo versus the remaining American League outfielders he simply does not measure up to what was expected with a 72.5 Million contract.
Castillo’s home in the outfield for 2015 was primarily in right field until the Red Sox management had a fielding epiphany and removed the beleaguered Hanley Ramirez from further embarrassment. So no matter how Castillo would flop around in left it would be an improvement. Frankly, Stevie Wonder would be an improvement over HR.
But flop around, he did not. Castillo would certainly have his moments of confusion at any three outfield slots, but the final tally was surprisingly positive if you believe with all your baseball heart and soul in fielding metrics. The UZR was sixth among all American League outfielders at 10.4 and the all-important UZR/150 was seventh at 19.2 Way up on the leader board for both. The few games I saw Castillo in left I was impressed – quick to the ball, a strong and accurate arm and the ability to both charge the ball and go to his left. A defensive keeper.
The battle plan for the Red Sox is to have Castillo in left field. The apparent hope is that somehow the hitting will improve – especially in the power production. Just looking at Castillo, there are muscles on the muscles so you can see why some of his home runs can get well into the 400’ + range. The fielding seems settled. Also expect Castillo to perform his hitting magic somewhere in the lower depths of the order. And, just maybe, some of the ground ball ability will become line drive ability and the 2015 BABIP of .298 will notch upwards.
The Red Sox have an insurance policy in case Castillo breaks a bone or plummets on offense and that is new acquisition Chris Young – formerly of the New York Yankees and three other major league teams. So Castillo will start out of the gate, but it is who finishes the race that is important. If Young is playing more than Castillo it is another contractual disaster.